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Harriet Dempsey-Jones

Harriet Dempsey-Jones

Postdoctoral Researcher in Cognitive Neurosciences, UCL
I am a researcher in the field of cognitive psychology at University College London. I look at how our brains and particular cognitive processes cause our subjective psychological and perceptual experience.

My research looks at how the body processes touch and other sensory inputs. Particularly, I am interested in plasticity in the area of the brain that processes sensory inputs from your body - the somatosensory cortex. I look at how this system is shaped by adding or removing sensory inputs.

For example, I look at how daily activity (the way our bodies move and how we interact with the world) causes patterns of sensory input that shape the body map in the brain. I also look at how we can directly improve perception by adding input through training - sensory enhancement.

On the other side of the coin, I am also interested in understanding the effects of sensory deprivation. What happens to the brain and, subsequently, to perception when you remove sensory inputs? I look at this on short-term timescale using anaesthetics and on a longer timescale by working with people who have experienced amputation of one or more limbs.

In my PhD at the University of Queensland I looked at how our brains combine sensory inputs from our eyes, ears, skin etc. to form a coherent perception of the world and our bodies. My undergraduate studies were in psychology where I covered a diversity of topics related to perceptual, cognitive, social, neuroscience, business and statistical aspects of psychological research.

I also love teaching, and has taught a variety of courses at my various universities on neuroscience, physiology and psychology.

What is the best sense? Scientists are still battling it out

Apr 01, 2019 17:19 pm UTC| Insights & Views Science

If there is one thing Twitter has taught us, its that the world loves a question that sounds stupid, but actually has a profound and interesting answer. For instance, what would happen if the world suddenly turned into...

How the brain remembers amputated limbs – and continues to control them

Feb 08, 2019 11:57 am UTC| Insights & Views Health

Most people who have lost a limb still feel its presence decades later. This phenomenon, dubbed phantom limb, has long been a mystery. But with new ultra-high resolution brain scanning, are now able to look inside the...

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